Cultural Diversity and the EU Copyright Policy and Regulation

Giuseppe Mazziotti


The European Union (EU) has a long-standing commitment to the harmonisation of member states' copyright legislation. Since the early 1990s several regulatory measures have been adopted with the aim to guarantee the proper functioning of the internal market for cultural goods and services. Although primarily designed to correct legislative disparities between national copyright laws, EU copyright directives have been increasingly aimed at preserving and promoting Europe's cultural diversity. This chapter argues that the understanding of cultural diversity in the context of EU copyright law has significantly evolved over the years. The second section shows that, at the beginning of the process of the harmonisation of copyright, EU law supported cultural creation by strengthening and extending the legal protection of creative content without placing special emphasis on the preservation and promotion of Europe's cultural diversity. The third section points out that corporate interests evidently prevailed over the objective to protect the interests of individual creators, whose contribution is crucial for the production of diverse cultural content. The fourth section focuses on the legislative interventions that, in certain cases (i.e. private copying and reprography, sales of original works of graphic and plastic art, the recently extended protection of sound recordings) are aimed at securing income for authors and performers in order to support their creative endeavour. As the chapter shows, in such cases EU law prioritised the financial interests of individual authors and performers through the creation of specific non-waivable rights to remuneration. The fifth section, finally, shows that, from 2010 onwards, the EU has pursued more directly the policy goal of preserving and promoting cultural diversity in order to foster the development of an EU digital single market for creative content and to support online dissemination of cultural resources such as orphan works and public domain materials through digital libraries (in particular Europeana).

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